June 6, 1865

Tuesday, June 6, 1865

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Proceedings

The court convened at 11 o’clock.[1] The commission would meet at 11 (or later) for the rest of the trial.

Present: All nine members of the military commission, the eight conspirators, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, Assistant Judge Advocates Bingham and Burnett, the recorders of the court, lawyers Walter Cox, William Doster, Thomas Ewing, and Frederick Stone.

Absent: Reverdy Johnson, Frederick Aiken, and John Clampitt.

Seating chart:

The prisoners were seated in the same manner as the day before.

The reading of the prior day’s testimony was completed at 1 o’clock at which time the court took its normal one hour recess for lunch.[2] Before testimony opened in the afternoon, lawyers Frederick Aiken and John Clampitt appeared.

Prior to the start of witnesses, Thomas Ewing, lawyer for Dr. Mudd, Edman Spangler, and Samuel Arnold, made a request on the part of all of the defense attorneys. He requested that the official record of the prior day’s proceedings be furnished to the defense each morning per the rules of the court. Ewing expressed that it had not been of much importance prior to this because the testimony had been daily recorded in the editions of the Daily National Intelligencer newspaper. However, Ewing noted that the Intelligencer had fallen behind in their record of the trial and so the defense required the court furnished them with the record each morning. Assistant Judge Advocate Henry Burnett replied that the record was always in readiness for the defense counsel.[3]

Testimony began

Daniel W. Middleton, chief clerk for the Supreme Court, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. An earlier prosecution witness, Marcus Norton, had testified that he had argued a case in front of the Supreme Court on March 3rd and that it was on the morning of that day that Dr. Mudd burst into his hotel room looking for John Wilkes Booth. Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s attorney, asked Middleton whether this court date was accurate. Middleton, using a case entry he had brought with him, verified that Norton had, indeed argued a motion in front of the court on March 3rd.[4] It’s likely that Ewing’s purpose in giving this small credibility to Norton’s testimony was to box him in on that exact date. Ewing had spent the prior day bringing forward many witnesses who placed Dr. Mudd on his farm on March 3rd. It’s probable that Ewing wanted to show the weight of evidence was in his favor and not give the prosecution or Norton a chance to counter the timeline at a later date. In future sessions Ewing would also bring forward witnesses to speak of Norton’s poor reputation for truth telling.

Thomas Ewing then applied to the court to recall prosecution witness Daniel Thomas for further cross-examination. The application was agreed to by the Judge Advocate General Holt.

Daniel J. Thomas, a resident of Charles County, MD, was recalled after previously testifying for the prosecution against Dr. Mudd on May 18th. Thomas had testified that Dr. Mudd told him in March of 1865, that Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, and all Union men in Maryland were to be killed in a period of weeks. The subject of Thomas Ewing’s questions for Daniel Thomas concerned events that had transpired after Thomas had previously testified to this. Ewing asked Thomas about his actions on June 1st at the home of a neighbor living in Horsehead, MD. Ewing asked Thomas if the witness had made applications to several of his neighbors for certificates that he had been the first one to give information that led to the arrest of Dr. Mudd so that he may get some reward money. According to Ewing’s scenario, Thomas expressed he could get a reward of $10,000 for his testimony and asked his neighbors for certificates concerning his statements to support his future claim for money. When asked about it, Thomas denied having made any such applications but wanted to give his own accounting of the incident Ewing described. Thomas completely denied Ewing’s assertion that he claimed his information led to Dr. Mudd’s arrest. According to Thomas, after his testimony on May 18th he had been told by some of Col. Baker’s men that if he had indeed informed others about Dr. Mudd’s earlier statement before the assassination occurred, he would be eligible for some reward money. Thomas claimed he did his part not expecting any sort of reward but the possibility of reward piqued his interest. Though he denied several times making any sort of application to his neighbors, he did admit that he was soliciting their help in getting some reward money by asking them if they would swear that he had told them about Dr. Mudd’s threats before the assassination occurred. All of the neighbors refused stating Thomas had not told them about the incident until after the assassination. Ewing continued to press Thomas with questions regarding him telling his neighbors that he wanted them to swear that he was the reason Dr. Mudd was arrested in order to gain a share of the reward money.[5] Like the many witnesses Thomas Ewing had brought forward to speak of Thomas’ poor reputation for honesty, this cross-examination was to further discredit Thomas and imply that his reasons for taking the stand was to try and collect reward money.

James W. Richards, a Justice of the Peace in Prince George’s County, Maryland, testified that he met the previous witness, Daniel Thomas, and some of his neighbors on June 1st, 1865. According to Richards, Thomas told him he had called upon his neighbors for certificates stating their opinion that he, Thomas, was entitled to portion of the reward money offered for Booth and his associates. Thomas explained that if Dr. Mudd was convicted, he would be entitled to $10,000 in reward money based on the evidence he gave. According to Richards, the certificate Thomas wanted from his neighbor concerned he having informed them of Dr. Mudd’s arrest. Richards further added that Thomas’ reputation for truthfulness was considered very bad in the neighborhood and that, “if any money was at stake, I would not believe him” even under oath. Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham aggressively cross examined Richards which was noted on in the papers: “[Witness is a tall young man, with very red hair… The witness wilted under the fire of cross-examination, and his struggles afforded the spectators considerably amusement.]”[6] Bingham asking for the specific words spoken amongst the assembled gentlemen. Richards admitted that he made a joke to Thomas that $10,000 didn’t seem like enough reward money and that he thought Thomas should get $20,000 for his trouble. After hearing this joke, Thomas stated he didn’t want an affidavit from Richards as he didn’t want Richards to swear falsely for him. Bingham asked Richards about his loyalty during the war, but Richards stated he voted form Lincoln and Johnson and that he had been a hearty supporter of the government throughout the war. According to Richards, it was Thomas who had displayed disloyal acts by stating in 1861 that he was going to join the Confederate army.[7] In support of his implication that Daniel Thomas was motivated to testify out of financial inducements, Thomas Ewing presented a copy of the War Department’s April 20th orders authorizing “One Hundred Thousand Dollars” for the capture of John Wilkes Booth, George Atzerodt, and David Herold. Specifically relevant to Ewing’s case was the part stating, “Liberal rewards will be paid for any information that shall conduce to the arrest of either of the above-named criminals, or their accomplices.”[8]

The War Department’s offer of reward money was entered into evidence as Exhibit 81.

John F. Davis[9], a Prince George’s county farmer, was recalled to the stand after previously testifying for the defense the day before. Davis testified that he was at Dr. Mudd’s house on April 18th when a party of detectives consisting of Lt. Lovett, William Williams, Simon Gavacan, and Joshua Lloyd arrived. Since Dr. Mudd was not present at his house at the time, Davis went into the field to get him. Davis retrieved Dr. Mudd and, in bringing him to the house, the pair passed Dr. George Mudd, Dr. Mudd’s second cousin. Thomas Ewing proceeded to ask Davis what George Mudd said to Dr. Mudd when an objection was raised by Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham. Ewing appealed, stating that some of the detectives who took the stand claimed that Dr. Mudd held a brief conversation with George Mudd before entering the home and that the doctor then completely denied that any suspicious men had visited his farm during his conversation with the authorities. Ewing wanted Davis to recount the words George Mudd said to Dr. Mudd, to show that an acknowledgement had occurred between the cousins regarding Dr. Mudd’s request to George that the authorities be called so that he might give an accounting of his visitors. By doing this, Ewing hoped to show the impossibility of Dr. Mudd denying any men were at his house since he knew even before talking with the detectives the reason for their visit. Bingham maintained his objection stating that Davis was being asked to state what a third person said to one of the prisoners and that such testimony was “utterly” incompetent. The commission sustained Bingham’s objection and so Davis was not allowed to state the conversation he heard. Instead, Davis merely noted that Dr. Mudd displayed no alarm or unwillingness to talk to the detectives.[10]

Lemuel L. Orme, a farmer from Prince George’s County, testified about the poor reputation of prosecution witness Daniel Thomas. Orme testified that Thomas was looked upon in the community as a “man that hardy ever tells the truth.” Orme further asserted that if Thomas, “had the least prejudice against a person” he would not believe Thomas even if he swore under oath. On cross-examination, Orme stated that he had been loyal to the Union during the war but that he heard Thomas talk during the first year of the war in favor of the Confederacy.[11]

Henry L. Mudd, Jr., Dr. Mudd’s brother, was recalled to the stand after previously testifying for the defense on May 29th and May 31st. Henry described having seen Dr. Mudd at their father’s house on March 2nd – March 5th. He recounted the testimony of his sister Fannie Mudd in describing how their brother came repeatedly to their home during that week due to the illness of one of sisters. Henry was able to fix the dates because of Ash Wednesday was on March 1st. Henry also testified that Dr. Mudd did not own a buggy of any kind and, as far as he knew, never had. He described the carriage his father owned as a double horse closed carriage which could hold four people.[12] The purpose of this testimony was to discredit both Marcus Norton and Rev. William Evans who claimed to have seen Dr. Mudd in D.C. during the beginning of March.

Dr. Joseph H. Blandford, Dr. Mudd’s brother-in-law, was recalled to the stand after previously testifying for the defense on May 29th and June 3rd. Blandford stated that he saw Dr. Mudd at the Mudd farm on March 1st and then at church on March 5th. During Blandford’s visit with Dr. Mudd on the 1st, Mudd was making a tobacco bed and sowing tobacco seeds. Blandford reiterated that Dr. Mudd did not own a buggy of any kind and that Mudd’s father’s carriage would not be described as a buggy.[13] Like Henry L. Mudd, Jr.’s testimony before him, Dr. Blandford account worked to discredit Marcus Norton and Rev. William Evans.

Dr. Charles Allen, a physician residing in Washington, D.C., testified that Dr. Mudd visited his home on the evening of March 22nd into the early morning hours of the 23rd. Dr. Allen stated that Dr. Mudd was accompanied by Henry Clarke and Thomas Gardiner, though he could not recall Gardiner’s name on the stand. Dr. Allen did not know Dr. Mudd very well and had only been introduced to him by Henry Clarke. There were several other people at Dr. Allen’s house at the time and he was able to recall the exact date due to a strong gale that had occurred earlier in the day which was the subject of much conversation in the evening.[14] Dr. Allen’s testimony was to properly explain Dr. Mudd’s absence from his farm on the evening of March 22nd. Thomas Gardiner had previously testified about the trip he and Dr. Mudd took hoping to attend a horse auction in D.C. which was cancelled. Gardiner’s and Allen’s testimony was to show that Dr. Mudd did not have any time during this outing to make contact with John Wilkes Booth or any of the other conspirators.

Henry A. Clarke, a coal and wood dealer residing in D.C., testified that he entertained and lodged Dr. Mudd and Thomas Gardiner on the evening of March 22nd. The two men came to Clarke’s store between 6 and 7 o’clock they, collectively, went to Clarke’s home for tea before heading to Dr. Allen’s for a night of card playing. They departed Dr. Allen’s at around 12:30 am on the 23rd and spent the night at Clarke’s home. Dr. Mudd and Gardiner traveled back to their homes on the morning of the 23rd. Clarke stated he was with Dr. Mudd during the entirety of his visit aside from when the doctor went up to bed.[15] Like the prior testimony of Dr. Allen, Clarke’s testimony was to show that Dr. Mudd had no opportunity to see Jon Wilkes Booth or any of the other conspirators during his D.C. visit on March 22nd.

Eaton G. Horner, a detective on the staff of Baltimore provost marshal James McPhail, was recalled by the defense after previously testifying for the prosecution on May 18th. Thomas, Ewing, lawyer for Samuel Arnold, asked Horner about the confession Samuel Arnold gave to Horner upon his arrest. Specifically, Ewing wanted to know whether any part of the confession Horner had testified about on May 18th was given to him on board the boat Louisiana which had transported Arnold from Fortress Monroe, Virginia to Baltimore. Horner assured Ewing that nothing he had testified to had taken place on the boat, only what Arnold had said to him on shore.[16]

After Horner’s testimony, Thomas Ewing stated that while several important witnesses for his clients had been subpoenaed, none were present in the court at this time. Frederick Aiken, lawyer for Mary Surratt, likewise expressed that he had two of three additional witnesses he wanted to call for his client but there were not present. Aiken stated that if all of the witnesses for the other defendants were called on a future date before his witnesses took the stand, he would not ask the court for a delay to retrieve them. Aiken stated that he was ready, at any time, to sum up Mary Surratt’s defense.

General David Hunter, the president of the commission, notified the counsels that, per the rules of a courts martial, they were all required to present their final arguments in writing. Judge Advocate General Holt also stated that they would follow the normal rules of courts martial, and that the defense would present their closing arguments first followed by the prosecution with no further arguments allowed after the government had closed its case. Ewing and Aiken both expressed that they would prefer the government at least indicate their theory regarding the accused before the defense presented their closing arguments. Holt remarked that the general course of the prosecution’s examination during the trial had already indicated their case.[17]

General Hunter then formally announced that the trial would hereafter convene at 11 o’clock instead of 10 o’clock. With there being no other defense witnesses in attendance, the court adjourned at around 5 o’clock.[18]


Recollections

From General Kautz’ diary:

“The Commission met at eleven to give the Judge Advocate time, but he was late as usual, at which the President became excited. We got through all the testimony quite early…The weather was much cooler today than yesterday.”[19]


Newspaper Descriptions

“When the hour of intermission had arrived, the audience were edified by the sight of the prisoners rising from their seats and marching out with steps contracted to the length of clanking chains attached to their gyves, and with hands held reverentially before them because of the manacles that enforce reverential gestures.”[20]

“The counsel for the prisoners appeared surprised and disappointed when Judge Holt informed them that he would not make an opening argument, but that counsel for the prisoners would be expected to open and complete their summing up in each case, and the Judge Advocate will then answer the points taken by the opposing counsel, and close the case. This throws upon the counsel for the prisoners the necessity of taking the initiative in summing up, instead of giving them the advantage of hearing the argument for the Government and then shaping their own to meet the points advanced on the other side. Under the present arrangement they will present their whole case in summing up. This is in conformity with the rules of courts-martial, which differ in this respect from the practice of civil courts.”[21]

Mrs. Surratt

“Mrs. Surratt was for the most part hidden behind her black veil, fan and a gentleman whose manly form, as he stood in front of the railing, screened her from the observation of the eager spectators.”[22]

Lewis Powell

“…In speaking of the work of assassination, one could discover an expression of self-consciousness on Payne’s countenance. There was even a gleam of sarcasm mixed with an appearance of being amused upon that dark face.”[23]

Samuel Arnold

“Arnold seems more cheerful than any of the rest, which may be owing to the fact that he has enjoyed a seat near an open window throughout the trial.”[24]

Michael O’Laughlen

“O’Laughlin was without coat, waistcoat or neckcloth, and his face was pallid as his shirt. He seemed nervous, and occasionally shivered as if he were growing cold.”[25]


Visitors

“The cool atmosphere was a sensible relief to those who are compelled to attend regularly. The hot weather that has prevailed during a few days past, threatened to aggravate the horrors of the Old Penitentiary, where the deliberations are held, to that degree that the prisoners would all expire before the testimony was finished. As the members of the court, advocates, reporters, and guards would be involved in the same fatal calamity, a change in the weather had become extremely desirable. The prisoners survive, and so do some of the fair ladies who have been constant in their attentions to them. Some of the ladies who have been always present before to-day are missing, and our reporter is left to the conclusion that their zeal in the study of criminal jurisprudence has cost them their lives. While reflecting upon the sad fate of those already dead, one contemplates with peculiar sadness of feeling the galaxy of lovely ones present to-day with their beautiful eyes fixed upon the most repulsive row of faces that were ever before arraigned at the bar, while they inhale the most villainous atmosphere that ever pervaded a court-room.”[26]

“The interest in the trial continues unabated, the crowd in attendance today being much larger, noisier and ruder than ever before.”[27]

“Among the visitors in the court room this afternoon was the Bloomer, Dr. (or Doctress) [Mary E] Walker, who took a position near the prisoners dock. The prisoners appeared considerable interested and amused by the appearance of the Bloomer. Payne grinned, Atzerodt grinned, Spangler grinned, and Herold ‘snickered right out.’”[29]

“As the prisoners reappear and resume their places in the court-room, the fresh spectators, who have been yawning and looking at each other, suddenly become animated and excited, and a loud buzzing begins to be heard. They are on the tip-toe of expectation when Mrs. Surratt enters, after all the rest. But she is so quickly ambushed by the officers in attendance that their curiosity is but poorly gratified.”[28]

“Miss Anna E. Dickinson [the activist orator] was present among the spectators, and Miss Surratt was again seated in front of her mother.”[30]


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[1] John F. Hartranft, The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators: Their Confinement and Execution, as Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft, ed. Edward Steers, Jr. and Harold Holzer (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 115.
[2] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[3] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[4] William C. Edwards, ed., The Lincoln Assassination – The Court Transcripts (Self-published: Google Books, 2012), 971.
[5] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 971 – 977.
[6] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[7] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 977 – 982.
[8] Ibid., 982 – 983.
[9] In all of the transcripts for the trial, the name given for this witness is John F. Davis. However, there is a small possibility that the actual witness who took the stand on this day was John’s son, [William] Thomas Davis. Both John and Thomas Davis testified the day before on Dr. Mudd’s behalf. The son, Thomas, was employed by Dr. Mudd and lived at the Mudd farm. On May 29th, Thomas had testified that he had summoned Dr. Mudd when the soldiers arrived at the farm on April 21st. The Davis who took the stand on this day testified to having retrieved Dr. Mudd when the soldiers first arrived on April 18th. While this very well may have been John Davis, it is not explained what the elder Davis was doing on the Mudd farm on April 18th, especially since he did not reside there. Perhaps he was visiting his son in the same way he did on March 3rd according to his testimony the day before. To complicate matters is a note written by Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s lawyer, to Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt on this date. Ewing wrote that, “Thomas Davis was in attendance as a witness for defense in the conspiracy case, on the 5th and 6th of June, & traveled from his home here, 30 miles & back, for which he has yet had no pay.” While Ewing claims Thomas Davis was present in the court, the younger Davis does not appear to testify on this date, just his father. Since John Davis is the name on record, that is who I am reporting was on the stand. But, the slight possibility remains that is was actually Thomas Davis who testified, perhaps being called under his father’s name which resulted in the confusion.
[10] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 983 – 984.
[11] Ibid., 984 – 986.
[12] Ibid., 986 – 987.
[13] Ibid., 988.
[14] Ibid., 988 – 989.
[15] Ibid., 989 – 992.
[16] Ibid., 992.
[17] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 7, 1865, 1.
[18] Hartranft, Letterbook, 116.
[19] August V. Kautz, June 6, 1865 diary entry (Unpublished diary: Library of Congress, August V. Kautz Papers).
[20] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[21] The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), June 7, 1865, 1.
[22] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[23] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[24] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[25] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[26] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[27] Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), June 7, 1865, 1.
[28] Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[29] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 6, 1865, 2.
[30] The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), June 7, 1865, 1.
The drawing of the conspirators as they were seated on the prisoners’ dock on this day was created by artist and historian Jackie Roche.

5 Comments

5 thoughts on “June 6, 1865

  1. Pingback: The Trial Today: June 6 | BoothieBarn

  2. Richard E Sloan

    Fantastic stuff, Dave. Footnote 9 of “today’s” entry shows your attention to detail and desire for accuracy. I am in awe. You deserve some sort of award for this monumental task.

    • Thanks, Richard. When I come across a contradiction, I try my best to sort it out. I’m happy to see someone is reading those footnotes!

  3. Graham Baldwin

    Dave, your recapitulation of the trial day by day, accompanied by contemporary observations from the commissioners and the press continues to breathe life into an otherwise dormant transcript. Thanks again.

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